Being a boss and being a leader are two very different things. Supervisors and bosses should always look at how they lead to ensure they support their teams well. To be a good leader, you should inspire and guide the people on your team. Great leaders use key skills like delegating, being thoughtful, making communication easy, and having clear goals. This piece is for managers and business owners who want to learn how to be strong leaders and not just good bosses. So what's the difference between a boss and a leader, and how do you strive to be the latter?

1. Bosses give orders; leaders have an impact

A boss's main job is to make sure that employees follow the rules of the company, but a leader will push the team members to really think for themselves in order to get the job done. Even though staff usually only follow their bosses because they have to, you can increase your effect on the team as a whole by caring about the individuals within that system, listening to their thoughts and ideas, and explaining why you have made the decisions you have. When done right, people understand your motivations and, in turn, will follow you here because they want to, not simply because they have to.

2. Bosses simply explain; leaders inspire fresh thinking

You shouldn't just tell an employee what to do and leave it up to them; that's how a boss thinks. A strong leader gets people really inspired about the job they need to do. This kind of passion is key to success. If people don't want to do their jobs, they won't be as motivated to do their best. As their leader, you should get them excited about their work by telling them how important it is.

3. Bosses give orders; leaders teach

Employees are people, so it's normal for them to make mistakes. When things go wrong, how you handle them shows what kind of boss you are. Most bosses try to stop bad behaviour with a system of rewards and punishments, but great leaders know that workers benefit from encouragement and guidance. If an employee does well in a certain area of work, that should be seen as a strength and built on accordingly.

4. Bosses give out jobs, but leaders give out power

A boss focuses on their department's goals and ensures everyone follows the rules to reach those goals. They only think about the short term, give their subordinates things to do, and tend to be very hands-on. A boss has specific goals they are focused on meeting, while a leader rather thinks about a long-term strategy for the organisation and uses this as a way to motivate and achieve this. A boss gets things done by telling people what to do and caring about how well they do it. A leader is good at getting things done and cares about doing the right thing by letting their team figure out what to do themselves. 

5. The boss is above the team, but the leader is part of the team

A leader spends a lot of time getting to know their staff. Bosses see their team members as subordinates, but leaders don't make this distinction and see everyone on the team as an equal contributor. To be a leader, it's important to help your staff get along with each other. Work with their needs and cultivate a culture that makes it easy for people to talk to each other. By investing in getting to know your team, you'll learn how to explain your vision in a way that will really resonate with each individual. 

The bottom line

Even though the path from boss to real leader can be hard, the benefits are well worth the work. Being a thoughtful leader can boost your team's productivity, motivation, and loyalty, which will only help your company succeed and grow. To invest in your business's leadership potential with management courses, a business coach or other resources, contact Merchant Capital today and fund your SME within 48 hours. 

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